July 8, 2011
HUD Shelter Plus Program Grants in Compliance
During the fall of 2010, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) reviewed Mecklenburg County’s administration of its Shelter Plus Care program grants. The review revealed deficiencies in the program’s administration which led to the termination of the contract with Mecklenburg County’s Area Mental Health Authority to administer HUD grant funds through Mecklenburg Open Door, a community partner. Two findings regarding income calculation requirements and internal controls were specifically identified, along with required corrective action in a report received from the HUD regional office.
In response to this review, Mecklenburg County staff worked to develop and implement an adequate system of internal controls to ensure that the administration of the Shelter Plus Care Program complies with all HUD program requirements. HUD required the County to submit documentation to address findings noted in the review. Correspondence dated June 30, 2011 from the HUD regional office indicates that both findings have been cleared which brings the Shelter Plus Care Program into full compliance.
Board members with questions should contact General Manager Michelle Lancaster at 704-336-2621 or email.
Real Estate Lookup Service Interruption
On Friday, July 1, the County’s online Real Estate Lookup application experienced a service interruption. Although some people assume this application is managed by the Tax Assessor’s Office, system maintenance is overseen by the County’s Information Services & Technology Department (IST). At 9:44 a.m. on July 1, IST staff was informed of the problem by a customer and began troubleshooting the application, web, and database servers that comprise the system. After a series of diagnostic checks, it was determined the system could be accessed internally, but not by external customers, indicating a potential firewall issue and/or a problem with a new server installed earlier in the week.
Staff worked throughout the day on the web and application servers with no success. At 6 p.m., IST staff decided to bring the old application server back online so the system would be operational over the weekend. Real Estate Lookup was operational again at 7:12 p.m. Other applications such as POLARIS were not affected and remained operational.
Real Estate Lookup is one of the County’s most popular online tools with over 1.7 million page views in the past month. Our service goal is to have applications running at 99.9% availability for customers in a given month. Over the last 30 days, the Real Estate Lookup has operated at 99.7% availability, which is below the optimal level. However, IST staff believes they have determined the cause of the downtime and are addressing the problem. Although this level of service interruption is an anomaly, Board members may be contacted by customers when it does happen, particularly by property owners researching assessed values. Residents can report technical problems by emailing email@example.com or, as with more routine service issues, by calling 311. We have instructed staff to make these contact options more apparent on the County's web site.
Board members with questions should contact IST Interim Director Brian Cox email or at 704-336-2576.
At its June 21 meeting, the Board deferred until the September 7 meeting a decision about requesting the State Department of Revenue to conduct an assessment of Mecklenburg County’s revaluation process. In deferring this matter, Board members expressed a desire to have more information about what such an assessment would entail, what requirements might be placed on County staff as part of the assessment, the schedule for completing the appeals process and the potential impact on completing this appeals process.
Seeking clarity on what an assessment would entail, County staff contacted David Baker, director of the N.C. Department of Revenue Property Tax Division. Mr. Baker raised several issues concerning an assessment as follows:
- Is reviewing the County’s reappraisal process proper or possible?
- Does his department have the staffing to complete such an assessment?
- Is there a conflict between doing a review and working with Property Tax Commission Appeals?
Mr. Baker did indicate his willingness to speak to the Board regarding sales ratio.
If there are no objections from Board members, I will write Mr. Baker on behalf of the Board to request that he attend the Board’s September 7 meeting to speak to Mecklenburg County’s sales ratio as he indicated. This will provide the Board with an objective quantifiable analysis to compare Mecklenburg’s revaluation to those of the other NC counties as well as to best practice standards.
In addition, at the September 7 meeting, Assessor Garrett Alexander will provide an update on the appeals process and schedule. He also will provide an overview of additional technology tools being used by the Tax Assessor’s Office that enhance and advance the capabilities of the revaluation process.
Board members with questions should contact General Manager John McGillicuddy email or 704-336-2661.
-- Harry L. Jones, Sr., County Manager